Qns: I love him but I simply can't stand his parents - they criticize every single thing I do and don't seem to think highly of me. I don't like to deal with the tense situation by using him as the mediator all the time. Is there a way I can handle my in-laws tactfully but stand my ground as well?
Get your partner to handle the situation:
“The rule of thumb for couples, is that each person is responsible for dealing with his or her own parents. Your role is to try as best as you can, to maintain a positive interaction with your in-laws. Your husband will have to step up and address any real issues you may have with his parents, and vice versa, should it happen.
You will have to help him understand though, that at times, you only need his understanding, acknowledgment, validation and support during the conflict.” – Ho Shee Wai, The Counselling Place
Keep calm and be tactful:
“Let’s be honest. Most of us can't stand our in-laws. The good news here is most of us can live with our in laws. It is imperative to understand that in-laws and for that matter your partner, need to be managed.
Telling yourself that losing your temper will not be useful in dealing with them is the first step. Always seek win-win solutions. Don't win the battle and lose the war. Sounds like office politics? Treat it like one and you will come out tops.” – Dr Lim Boon Leng, Dr BL Lim Centre for Psychological Wellness.
Qns: My mother-in-law sees me as an interloper and thief who stole her precious son away - and she treats me very shabbily. I have to stay with them but every day is a living hell and my partner just tells me to bear with it – that's the way his mum is! What should I do?
Come up with solutions:
"Bearing with it’ will get you nowhere. Instead, you will need to come up with good strategies and solutions to deal with the various problems you may encounter. If you and your husband see things differently, or refuse to compromise, seek professional help.” – Shee Wai
Talk to her:
“Reassure her that you are not stealing her son away by little gestures such as including her during some of the activities with your husband. At the same time, if they’ve got weekly routines that involve just the two of them, let them continue, and at times, join them. She will eventually let her guard down once you’ve managed to build rapport with her.
At the same time, make sure you set up boundaries, which your mother-in-law and husband have to understand. For instance, she has to knock the door before entering your room. While you both can disagree about issues, she will have to treat you with respect, and vice versa.
If these aren’t established, it will be difficult for you to stay with her, especially when you’re living under her roof. If the situation doesn’t get better or worsens, seek family counselling.” – Dr Lim.
Dr Lim Boon Leng is the founder and leading doctor of the Dr BL Lim Centre for Psychological Wellness in Gleneagles Hospital. For more information, go to www.psywellness.com.sg, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.